Sunday, May 28, 2017

Community connections

Originally I was going to write this post about my community but I find my specific community difficult to pin point.  Instead I have been thinking about the small moments of contact that add up to make my life feel meaningful and happy. 

A friend who doesn’t question my craziness when I ask her to help with photo locations, autumn leaves and afternoon light.  She just quietly supports and listens to me ramble on about quinces and life. 

My visits to our local vintage and second-hand shops.  These trips aren’t about filling my car with material things; they are more about observing the social history of our town, chatting with the shop owners and sometimes coming away with a special piece. 

Occasionally we eat meat that we haven’t slaughtered ourselves and when we do it comes from a proper butcher shop.  The sort of shop where the hardworking man who owns the business is behind the counter chopping, cutting and slicing as he subtlety reveals a little of his butchering knowledge to the cooks who visit him. 

Speaking of shops, a new pop up shop in town has completely captured my imagination.  The creative lady behind this venture has put her heart and soul into this previously unused space and her enthusiasm is infectious.  Every empty shop front in every country town needs someone like this! 

Last Sunday a friend and orchardist generously gave us oranges, corn and seed potatoes because he knew they would be put to good use and appreciated.  Really, is there anything better?   

An early morning text message from a friend who had thought of an idea for our upcoming Fire and Flour Day while she was preparing quinces for her cafe.  Thank you Summa for always believing in all the crazy schemes. I love that nothing is ever too difficult for you! 

This week I also hugged and chatted with a neighbour in the sunshine when her mix of work, life and kids all started to spin. 

While my community is rather random, these moments fill me with gratitude. 

Do you have these moments?

I hope this Sunday you are chatting with a friend or swapping some vegetables or baking something that warms your heart. 

Jane x

Friday, May 12, 2017

Autumn thoughts

My mind drifts across many things as I go about my days parenting, schooling and farm watching.

Autumn isn’t all traditional carpets of crunchy orange leaves at our place because we just don’t have that many deciduous trees.  My fruit trees put on a little display but right now they are still looking quite green.

Fresh chocolate chip biscuits can solve almost everything. 

Our horse’s whiskers capture the light so nicely, making these big animals even warmer and nicer to touch and smell on a cold afternoon.

I need to learn some safer, more effective knot tying for when farm things need to be dragged, towed, hitched together or fixed up with rope.  Girl Guide friends, I know you are out there. 

The two men in my life melt my heart, particularly in tender, reassuring moments like this one.

At the end of a big social day in the outback, in amongst the big trucks and utes a grandmother and her precious granddaughter stepped in front of my camera at the right time. 

I wonder how many quinces I can cook this season.  With the branches dragging on the ground it is time to get busy peeling, chopping and processing.

I have noticed that an early dinner time during the week is the secret to our success, or not.  When I have dinner planned and on the table early our whole week flows better.  On my less organised days when dinner is late it means late cleaning up and late bed times which overflows into every other part of our lives.   Sometimes it is the small things.  Actually, often it is small the things that count the most.

I am reading and slowly experimenting with bread from this beautiful book.

This song is on my playlist.  It is unapologetically American but I have been listening to this music since my teenage years and I still love it.  It reminds me of road trips, wide open spaces and the good stuff.

What are thinking or wondering or pondering?

Dinner times, autumn leaves or warm horse hair?

I hope you might be cooking or creating or sitting in the sunshine somewhere in amongst the day to day routine.

Happy Friday, friends x

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our island home, for a week

We only take a proper holiday once every few years so when we do, I like to put a fair amount of effort into booking accommodation that will hopefully enhance our overall holiday experience. 

Character and charm always win over generic, shiny spaces for me.  Although sometimes there is a fine line between charm, character and bare basics. Thanks to the world of Google and a little intuition I discovered Walden on Flinders Island.  

Walden was possibly one of the cosiest, character filled yet practical holidays rentals we have ever had the pleasure of relaxing in.

Constructed from a thoughtful mix of recycled building materials with uninterrupted mountain views from the main shower and a beach within strolling distance and we couldn't have asked for a happier island base. 

The memories of drawing, chatting, reading and cooking in this sun filled space will stay with us as a family forever. 

What do you look for in holiday accommodation?
Warmth and character or simply five stars?

Happy Sunday, friends x

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Flinders Island escape

If you are contemplating a holiday that involves bargain flights, glittering hotels and endless shopping opportunities Flinders Island is simply not your dream destination.

If on the other hand you are looking for deserted beaches, welcoming locals and endless walking and exploring opportunities Flinders Island could be for you.  

Island life is a lot like outback life in some respects.  To live on an island requires a certain amount of resilience, self sufficiency and organisation.  Council services are limited, many roads are unsealed and all supplies need to be shipped in either by barge or airfreight. Getting on and off the island requires planning for locals and tourists alike.  

Flights, accommodation and hire cars are all limited which means that crowds are non-existent even over a busy period such as Easter, when we visited.  All of these factors make a thoroughly peaceful holiday destination far from the usual, bustling tourist hot spots. 

If you have read some of my older blogs you will know that I love old beach shacks.  You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these rough little gems hidden in thick, coastal scrub , up narrow bush paths or sitting out on their own tiny islands. 

We were welcomed home by gentle rain, flowers in the garden and all of those things that make home so special but our week of relaxed island living will stay in our hearts for years to come.

While on Flinders Island we:

Bought coffee and local treats from A Taste of Flinders.

Tested local wine from Unavale Vineyard.
If you are interested I will be be posting about our accommodation  separately in the coming days.   

I hope you have had a lovely weekend, friends x

Saturday, April 8, 2017


The last week of the school term can be a killer.  Patience and motivation seem harder to find when the holidays and Easter are both in sight.  On top of that, my enthusiasm is limited when it comes to Easter craft activities and discussions.

Midweek my frustrations must have been quite obvious when my husband questioned why I was letting it all get to me.  He told me to do something that I found inspiring instead.  Why is it that men have a knack of explaining things so simply?  Or is it just me who has a tendency to torture myself with the tedious points of life, when instead I should just get outside and dig in the garden. 

So, I did.  We packed up the books and momentarily stepped away from our distance education computer. 

I cleaned up some dying summer vegetables.

I spent some time admiring beans and sunflowers seeds that I am collecting from the garden.  There is just something about a jar of seeds don’t you think?

I fed my sourdough starter.

I listened to some music, this song and then this song

I messaged an old friend and a cousin who I haven't seen in ages and arranged some real life catch up time.

I baked a batch of Kourabiedes to give as gifts, if they last that long.

I spent some time daydreaming about coffee possibilities at this place and then this place. We are hitting the road very soon and it is getting rather exciting. 

Of course, I can’t always down tools when the going gets tough, but sometimes it is just good to reconnect with the things that make us happy. 

Do you have a favourite thing to do when life starts to boil over?  I know for some of you it is sewing.

Happy weekend, friends x

Sunday, April 2, 2017

My photography uniform

I am guessing that almost everyone reading likes to take photos either with their phone or on a big camera or with some sort of photographic device.   Sometimes my camera feels like an extension of my body and I reach for it constantly.  It feels so familiar and there are times when photos of moments passed bring a tear to my eye.   Not because I think my photos are particularly spectacular, I just get immersed in the memories. 

I find myself looking at the light wherever I am and imaging photographic possibilities.
My camera is almost always with me.  

Unusually for us, we have had two consecutive weekends of social activity, our local races and then a neighbour’s wedding.   On both of these occasions I have found myself a lot more dressed up than usual and I have realised that it is almost impossible for me to take photos when I am in a dress and heels.  For some reason I find it very difficult to be subtle and smooth, camera in hand at big social events.  I find it equally conspicuous and inappropriate to be glued to my camera phone.

Our neighbour’s wedding was a photography paradise.  There was a garden oasis, a glorious outback sunset, a huge sheep trough full of ice and sparkling drinks, a decorated woolshed, a perfect dust haze, genuine country smiles, gorgeous ladies and handsome men.  Yet, in my formal dress and makeup I felt unable to reach for my big lens.  Sitting here now I feel quite regretful but in some ways I know that there are times when it is good to step away from the camera.

For now I will stick to quinces, autumn light, vegetables, horses and scenery from home, captured while I am in my jeans, wide brimmed hat and work boots.  I will work on mastering photography in a dress. 

Do you have a favoured photography uniform?

Do you need to feel comfortable to get into that magical photography zone?  

What are you taking photos of today, I wonder? 

Since it is Sunday I will leave you with two songs.  There are so many big names, voices and songs all wrapped together beautifully in this package.

I know a lot of people who are seeing the Dixie Chicks live while they are in Australia.  This song is a favourite of mine and judging by the Instagram videos in my feed I think a few other people might like it too.   

Happy Sunday, friends x

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Progress and patience

There have been so many ebbs and flows in the last week or two.  In amongst the whirl of it all I have noticed some things.

I have seen that my children are incredibly resilient, responsible and patient in those moments when it really counts.  This week they have supported and encouraged me when I absolutely needed it.   I just couldn’t ask for more.

I have realised that my husband, Terry and I have been married for seventeen years.  Lately, due to farming and business demands we have spent a lot of time apart.  Semi-single parenting and farming can be challenging and crazy at times but like all things, these days will pass.

Apparently autumn is here, but the days are still very hot and dry.  Parts of my garden are feeling the change in season while other parts are still in summer mode. 

I am faced with the eternal question, do I start to pull things out to make room for fresh organic matter and my winter crop or wait until everything has completely finished and collapsed.  Patience or progress?  

Cattle are amazing creatures but they can be hard to catch on camera.  I have been treating these sunset expeditions as mini creative challenges.  It just feels good to spend some time concentrating on the light, dust, animals, horizons and camera settings.

We have an actual, real holiday on the horizon.  Although I am trying not to get ahead of myself I am very excited about some travel, adventure and relaxation.

How is your Sunday looking?

What are you noticing in your world right now? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

When technology disappears, for a while

Hello friends, it has been a while.  We have been without a serious computer for the last week or so which in some ways has simplified life.  However, eventually there are always bills to pay, emails to respond to and online business to take care of.  So, we sent our incredibly dusty and apparently malware infested hard drive off to a reliable backyard computer wizard in town and hoped that one day it would return, intact. 

I have missed plugging my camera in and looking over my photos and I have really missed blogging.  Not necessarily my own blog but all the blogs I like to keep up with.  For a while it felt like some of my friends were missing from my life.  Thankfully, I know a few dedicated bloggers and I know you are all still out there. 

While that dusty old hard drive left a gaping hole under our desk, life went only fairly normally.  In our world there are a few things that still operate without passwords, sms security codes or dreaded malware infections. 

Kids, cattle and horses.  Of course, kids love technology but they also manage quite well without it, amazingly! 

Bread, there is always bread. 

My snake beans have been so productive but when I harvest them it is always a battle between the ants and I.

The eggplants are also prolific, as are the weeds when I inspect this photo more closely.

This giant sunflower reached for the sky and produced a plate sized flower.  Now is has bowed its weighty head as the seeds start to dry off. 

Dill flowers have lived happily tangled under my quince trees all through the summer and they just make me smile.

Autumn is on the horizon and so are the quinces.

Perhaps some cooking might be on your horizon?  In the latest issue of Graziher you will find some of my autumn cooking creations including quince scrolls.

Blogging forces me to collate my thoughts as well as my photos and it feels good to be back.

Are you growing, baking or perhaps taking off after a mob of cattle on your trusty horse?

Wishing you a weekend full of the good things.